Lately I’ve had this very unproductive habit of buying things before I find the need for it. It’s my fault, ever since coming up with the wise thought that there is no need until you know something exists, I’ve found myself needing everything I happen to chance upon…. especially on the internet.
ToT with Ish
But it truly is better to have something and not need it, than need something and not have it. In a matter of days, I found myself as a guest for this year’s Red Cross Gala with a very special exhibition of designer Dennis Lustico’s deliciously gorgeous garbs. Good thing I had this lovely Badgley Mischka gown I bought off the web (ala rack) which had been festering some cabinet mites.
Dennis Lustico has been on the radar for some time due to his very well executed and crafted dresses and trousers. I’ve been following his work for some time, and was excited to finally be a part of his first solo exhibit. But come on, I’ll be honest, aside from the opportunity to dress up, I was really there for the foooooood! And food there was!
Sun dried tomato pandesal. A yummy variation on the usual breakfast bread
The ladies’ minaudieres. NO… not edible, but eye candy nonetheless
First Course: Trio of Tastes
Milkfish Dumpling with Mango Relish, Vegetable Lumpia, Garlic, Peanuts & Sweet Soya Sauce, Kesong Puti Flan with Red Pepper Sauce
The kesong puti (white cheese) flan felt like a quiche lingering cheesy flavors in your mouth. The milkfish or bangus dumpling was sensational with the mango compote in the bottom, but it reeked of strong milkfish aftertaste which I never thought was possible to come from trusty bangus. But the winner of it all was the Veggie Lumpia (springroll) which, quite honestly had nothing special in it. And yet that’s where it became special in itself. The freshness of the veggies, alongside the perfect alignment of the jullienned strips and the simplicity of the sauce, all interacted to present a visual and gastronomical light bulb. I can’t believe I’m gushing over some chopped veggies on a crepe pancake. Lol
Second Course: Coconut Seafood Binakol
Now, this is the coolest. The young coconut acts as the bowl for the nice soft seafood broth, but aside from that, the flesh from the coconut becomes glutinous when the soup is incorporated, transforming the once clear concoction into a muddled mixture with hints of local and Thai roots.
I especially enjoyed the taste of the lemongrass which rendered well next to the muted taste of the coconut flesh. It also acted as a fragrant skewer to the seafood.
There was so much seafood inside the treasure chest, I became full immediately! But of course I will never waste a good course. Then came the main entree:
Poulet a la Filipine, Truffle Risotto, Baguio Beans

First thought: Are you kidding me? Chicken??? Ok enough. I have to say, it’s one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever had. The moist and juicy chicken envelopes a fragrant herby stuffing inside, while the risotto hints at the intoxicatingly bulby aroma of truffles and cream. But the Baguio beans… If this meal taught me one thing, it’s that the freshest ingredients make the most impact. You can never mess with good firm Baguio beans unless you douse it with sauce or over steam it.

And lastly… Dessert!
Dulce de Leche Ice Cream, Leche Flan with Fresh Macapuno, Chocolate Turon
I was quite taken aback, after such an astute meal, that the dessert failed to seal the deal for me. Visually appealing and enticing, each component had hit a miss, or so it tasted. The dulce de leche ice cream did not taste like dulce de leche. NOPE. It was more of a creamy vanilla ice cream instead of the condensed milky yumminess that is in dulce de leche. The chocolate turon was too tiny so it was just one crispy mess with traces of burnt chocolate. And the leche flan was ordinary. The best part about everything was the macapuno (young coconut chutney), which was clearly made fresh and tasted every bit the sticky sweet coconutty goodness I so needed after three failed attempt at a sweet retreat.
It’s ok though, because more eye candy came in the form of beautiful frocks during the fashion show. I became particularly smitten over this feathered ball skirt which was just luring me to cut the check. Such a beautiful collection! Now that’s the right way to end a meal